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24 January 2006, 11:37 am
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Skandia Geelong Week 2006

The seven race Scotchmans Hill Series kicks off from Williamstown tomorrow, heralding the start of Skandia Geelong Week in Victoria, Australia with close to 100 yachts expected for the 1230 hours local time start. Over 400 entries in entirety across many classes and divisions have been received by event organizers at Royal Geelong Yacht Club so far. More are expected for the event billed as "the largest and oldest Keelboat regatta" in Australia.
Within the Scotchmans Hill Series in the IRC class, is a maxi division, set to feature such boats as Grant WHARINGTON's Don Jones super maxi Skandia and NSW entries, Steven DAVID's Reichel/Pugh Wild Joe and Sean LANGMAN's AAPT.

WHARINGTON this morning finished leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race and will have little time to breathe before his assault as the biggest boat at 98 foot. LANGMAN has been here before and brings a mix of experienced elders and up and coming youths.

For DAVID, this is a first and one he says he is looking forward to. He will come to the event with a crew top heavy in names, including Cameron MILES, champion sailor in a number of classes, who will feature in Wild Joe's afterguard. 'We will be competitive, we've got a great crew'' MILES said, fresh from his third place at the recent Audi Etchells Nationals.

In what looks like being a Victorian, South Australia, NSW and Tasmanian showdown - winner take all stakes, other 'name' entries such as South Australians including Geoff BOETTCHER's Hardys Secret Mens Business, Richard FIDOCK's As Good As It Gets and Andrew SAIS' True North, Tasmanians Toby RICHARDSON on One Steel, Steve HARRISON on Skandia Commitment and NSW entries, Ray ROBERTS' Quantum Racing and Roger HICKMAN's Wild Oats will take on the might of some top Victorian yachts.

Big Victorian Entry

Victoria is well represented by Phil COOMBS on Dekadence, Michael HIATT on Living Doll, John ROUSE on Rouseabout 3, Robert HANNA on Shogun, Robert HICK on Toecutter, Alan WHITELEY on Cougar, Chris DARE on Flirt, Graeme TROON on XLR8, Alan WOODWARD on Reverie and Denis MCCONNELL on Schuss.

Add to those five Victorian Sydney 38s - yachting legend Lou ABRAHAMS on Challenge, Bruce TAYLOR on Chutzpah, Damian TAYLOR on Clockwork Orange, Terry HALL on Livewire and Ian MURRAY on Cinquante, not just looking to win the series, but also be top boat in this hugely popular one-design class.

Design Rivalry

This is not just a state versus state competition either; a number of yachts share designers and it will be on for young and old. Hardys' Secret Mens Business and XLR8 are both Reichel/Pugh 46s, As Good As It Gets, Reverie, Schuss and True North are Beneteau 40.7s and Shogun, Quantum Racing and Dekadence are DK46s.

Rivalry is strong between the designs, as was proved at Hamilton Island and more lately, the big race to Hobart. Going into the Scotchmans Hill Series, Challenge is the lead Sydney 38, Hardys SMB the favoured Reichel/Pugh 46, Quantum Racing is the DK46 to beat and As Good As It Gets is expected to be on top of the 40.7s.

However, that could all change at Skandia Geelong Week. After tomorrow's two trapezoid courses at Williamstown, competitors will contest the 34 nautical mile Williamstown Geelong Passage Race on Thursday, then it is windward/leeward racing for the following two days on Corio Bay in Geelong.

Host, Royal Geelong Yacht Club has the experienced Graeme RITCHIE as Regatta Chairman once again, Robert HAMPSHIRE is Sailing Administrator and Denis THOMPSON will fill the role of Principal Race Officer.

Skandia Geelong Week, whose Patron is John BERTRAND AM, dates back to 1844 and was the first regatta ever held in Victoria. Between 1844 and 1858 the annual regatta was organized by a committee consisting of professional sailors, local publicans and waterfront traders. The success of the 1858 regatta paved the way for the first formed yacht club in Victoria - Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

Di PEARSON (As Amended by ISAF)
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